Circuit City Is Hemorrhaging Money: How Would You Fix It?

Somebody stop the bleeding! After losing $164.8 million in the first quarter, Circuit City has announced that they’ve taken it to the next level, and, not to be outdone by last quarter’s disaster, have managed to lose $240 million dollars.

Their new CEO, James A. Marcum, who has only been on the job a week, said:
“We realize the performance of this company is unacceptable to all of our stakeholders and that it is imperative that we take the right steps to accelerate our turnaround.”

And so, as is our habit, we ask you, the consumer, to tell us what is wrong with Circuit City and how they can fix it. We’ll choose the best comments and share them with Mr. Marcum.

What’s wrong with Circuit City?!

Circuit City Posts Wider Loss [Washington Post]

Comments

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  1. humphrmi says:

    Umm, I hope it’s not too obvious – customer service sucks. Fix it.

    • thebigbluecheez says:

      @humphrmi:
      As a former insider, I think that the way to do that is to go back in time and not take away commissions from your sales force. I worked with the last remainders of former commission salespeople at my location (in/around Portland, Oregon) and they were phenomenal salespeople. They were passionate, informed, and knew how to help their customers. But when they were transitioned into hourly-only they lost, by and large, their motivation to sell. CC lost their best employees, which in turn meant they lost their best trainers for new employees.

      How would I fix it? Hire arsonists and collect the insurance money. You’re going down in flames, you may as well get paid.

      • IN THE FACE! says:

        @thebigbluecheez: DAMMMMIT I was going to make an arson joke…

      • humphrmi says:

        @thebigbluecheez: And I totally yield to any insiders who can suggest the details of how to make that work. Frankly I, as the customer, don’t care if the guy I’m talking to gets a commission or not (unlike many consumers who *hate* commission salespeople, because of the upsell abuse potential…) I’m the big picture guy, hopefully others will fill in the details. ;-)

        • thebigbluecheez says:

          @humphrmi: As far as commissioned sales people go: it’s like walking a double-edged tightrope (errr, or something like that). If your salespeople are incentivized to make good sales so that their paychecks are what they should be, they are more likely to sell a “complete solution” and meet more customers’ needs.

          The problem is that nearly everybody has dealt with commissioned salespeople, and the ones we remember are the douches who won’t take “no” for an answer. Customer gets angry because they had products shoved down their throats.

          Currently, on the opposite side of the spectrum, we have non-commissioned salespeople who make exactly squat by selling you the rechargeable batteries that will make your camera much more useful on your month-long backpack trip across Europe. The Company loses a $15 sale of batteries+charger, and the customer gets angry at buying AA batteries at every Tabak they can find.

          I like to think that I listened enough to learn what a person’s budget was, how they were going to use the camera/PSP/whatever, which accessories they had and which they still needed to buy.

          Now-a-days, salespeople are unmotivated (no benefit to them if the company does well), managers are less than inspired by their sales, uh, “force”, and customers are angry that customer service is non-existent.

          As far as “insiders who can make that work”, I already said it. Get your time machine out. Put CC’s entire R&D department on it. That’s what’s going to save the company. ;)

  2. JohnDeere says:

    they should buy sears from kmart.

  3. strife1012 says:

    Change all Circuit City Stores into to the smaller, Light Weight stores called “The City”

  4. Does anyone really have to ask “what’s wrong with Circuit City?” The previous post on CC pretty much explained it: “firing a bunch of long-time employees and replacing them with lower-paid workers without benefits.” Companies get cheap, fill the pockets of the executives and shareholders, then wonder why it doesn’t last long and the company goes under.

    • strife1012 says:

      @beyondthetech: That “Layoff” was supposed to save the company $71 million, looks like that Didn’t help, the moral of the stores became far worse. That Layoff was spurred when any employee making $.51 or more an hour above the maximum was Fired.

    • ILoveVermont says:

      @beyondthetech: This is precisely why I avoid Circuit City like the plague. Firing competent, experienced staff so they can hire incompetent inexperienced staff at a lower hourly rate is only one step above off-shoring (which is kind of difficult to do if you want your store staffed with live people on-site!). Scumbags, that’s what Circuit City’s upper management are: Scumbags. And honestly, I’m insulting scumbags by making the comparison.

      • dweebster says:

        @ILoveVermont: Don’t worry, I’m sure the execs are as well compensated as the geniuses that let the “invisible hand” Dogma play itself out in our financial markets. Heck of a job!

        They can’t offshore these salespeople to the $0.15/hr Chinese workforce like the manufacturers do, so they drive down wages here as low as they can. Attracting the people able to afford to live on so little money – AKA entry level workers subsidized by their parent or spouse’s income or living in their car under a lot of stress.

  5. GothamGal says:

    When spending at least $2,000 on a HDTV or Plasma TV, I don’t think that I can trust the expertise of a 17 year old high school dropout to guide me into choosing which one might be best for me.

    • Parting says:

      @GothamGal: I’m so in there with you on this one :)

    • Zeniq says:

      @GothamGal: Oh, Ok then. So I guess someone has to be at least 45 and have a bachelor’s in TVology to be good enough for you then?

      Just because someone is young does not mean that they don’t know what they’re talking about, much less does it mean that they are a “dropout”. You don;t know the person’s situation, so I think you should refrain from making such a comment.

      • MitchV says:

        @Zeniq:

        >>Just because someone is young does not mean that they don’t know what they’re talking about

        In sales, the initial perception of the customer is extremely important. The demographic that drops 2k on a television is not 17 years old, nor do they want to deal with a high school kid when making a $2000 decision.

        • @MitchV: You’re exactly right and completely sell my point on why I would buy a $2000 TV from Costco or Sam’s Club (vastly superior return policies, no sales people of any age to deal with).

    • BillsBurg says:

      @GothamGal: I’d never trust a major purchase like an LCD or Plasma TV to anyone but myself and my own research.

  6. AskCars says:

    Oh man I’ve been dying to get asked this question ever since I started boycotting Best Buy.

    1. Fix the damn CD and DVD sections. Seriously, can anyone find one thing they’re looking for?
    2. Shrink the Home Audio section. Do people still buy huge amps?
    3. Highlight the gadgets! I hear people like little handheld things these days. Maybe make them easier to find, easier to fondle etc.
    4. Dump car accessories. How many people update their car stereos anymore?
    5. Have a Nordstrom’s like return policy. Blow everyone away with friendly returns/customer service. Unlike Best Buy where they like to accuse you of committing a crime when returning something.

    • strife1012 says:

      @Rabbi Dave: 4. Dump car accessories. How many people update their car stereos anymore?

      We can’t lose Car Audio, we make the most profit from Car Audio and installations. We actually lose money on ever Computer we sell, we should dump that instead. We should dump Game Consoles too, we lose money.

      • Carso says:

        @strife1012: People really still buy after-market car stereos? Considering that even the base models of most cars now come with satellite radio, CD players, and auxiliary jacks, I’d be willing to bet that your car audio profits are going to be extinct in the very near future.

        • strife1012 says:

          @Carso: Who wants to pay the dealer $500 for an XM system? They walk into my store and want us to sell them the same thing the dealer has. Too bad only the dealer sells those parts.

          Plus with Appartment/College Campus Stereo Theft, I would sometimes get 20 a week on theft replacements.

      • AskCars says:

        @strife1012: interesting. I’m guessing it’s really the labor than and not the product you make money on.

        Maybe more needs to be done with Firedog then?

        • strife1012 says:

          @Rabbi Dave: Believe me more should be done, but they don’t know where to go next.

          PCs have free checkups so that you know that’s what they are there for. Most People don’t even know that We sell and Install Car Audio.

      • DePaulBlueDemon says:

        @strife1012:

        You lose money on game consoles? How? (Serious question).

        • Methusalah says:

          @DePaulBlueDemon: I think he may be a bit confused about that one. Probably misunderstood when informed that Microsoft and Sony lose money on the consoles they sell. I highly doubt any retail outlet would be willing to waste space on a product they sell at a loss.

          • jeebussez says:

            @Methusalah:
            In fact, many retail stores sell products at a loss. For a great example see ‘Black Friday’, or the day after Thanksgiving sale. Many stores sell stuff at a loss often

            a) in the hopes that when you come for an featured product they’re sold out, but hey, they have plenty of that other similar product with more features with only a ‘modest’ markup
            b) so that when you do come for that awesome deal, you happen to pickup the other 50 things you see along the way (see: grocery stores and why staples like meat and milk are in the back)

            I know for a fact that one small west coast retailer actually had sales on Black Friday that were WORSE than the average sales price on many items (I know because I did the pricing weekly). People buying into the ‘sale’ mentality didn’t realize they were paying for a product that cost less the previous week.

            • Methusalah says:

              @jeebussez: Yeah I should’ve clarified. I realize that retail stores sometimes sell items at a loss, but with the purpose of bringing in customers to purchase other items that they do profit from. I’ve never seen a retailer offer a sale on consoles for that purpose without attaching strings to it requiring the consumer to purchase additional products. The profit margin may be small for these consoles (and based on a few minutes of googling, it is), but they aren’t being sold at a loss when they aren’t on sale.

              • jeebussez says:

                @Methusalah: “I’ve never seen a retailer offer a sale on consoles for that purpose without attaching strings to it requiring the consumer to purchase additional products.”

                The console is the ball of string, whether it’s on sale or full price. You need games for a console. See ryan89′s post. It’s basically a microcosmic version of the game the Big Three (Sony, Microsoft, and at a much lesser extent Nintendo [they actually profit on their hardware]) play.

        • ryan89 says:

          @DePaulBlueDemon: Depending on the console, stores may lose money by selling you a console. They make about 20% margin on the games and anywhere from 30-70% margin on the accessories so they recoup the lost likely on the initial sale of console+accessories+games. When the PS3 first came out I seem to remember Best Buy was barely breaking even on the unit itself.

        • HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

          @DePaulBlueDemon: I had a long chat with a game store owner who was going out of business. It was pretty enlightening. I can definitely believe that Circuit City was losing money on game consoles, as, as this guy told me, the wholesale price on a console is generally about $3-5 below MSRP. Games usually have the same “margin”, if you can call it that. He made money through accessories, imported stuff, and used stuff. New systems and games were a loss leader.

          I’m sure it’s much the same at Circuit City, minus the imports and used. They make money off of the accessories, as well as your other purchases you make when you’re there to buy games.

        • strife1012 says:

          @DePaulBlueDemon: When I bought My Original XBox, if I had paid the “Employee Pricing” I would have had to pay $30 more. When I bought my XBox 360 Elite I saved 2 cents thanks to “employee pricing”.

          My Samsung TV however, I saved $600 on a 3k TV.

          Stores make money on accessories, not the actual Product, except TVs, and Car Audio.

      • British Benzene says:

        @strife1012: Car Stereo makes that much money? How much money do you lose when I walk out of Circuit City with my family because some moron has cranked up 50 cent and is shaking the whole store?

        That’s when I decide to buy my new 60″ TV at CostCo where they have (GASP) a generous return policy.

        As an aside, I almost always put new stereos and speakers in my vehicles because I buy stripped down former rental cars from a family member in the car business. I buy online and install myself or go to a specialty shop. I figure if their employees can’t back up a computer, I don’t want them screwing with a $10,000 vehicle that I still owe money on.

      • Eryk says:

        @strife1012:

        The problem with dumping things like computers and game consoles, is those products exist in your stores to get people in the doors. Foot traffic is an important part of any business, and without that “simple” merchandise, you become a specialty store…where the staff consists of warm meatballs. Good luck tryin to run that.

        But you are spot on about car audio. Home & Car audio products have a ridiculous markup, and contribute a healthy margin to the bottom line.

  7. CoAMarcus says:

    How about not charging an arm and a leg for basic things? I went to CC to buy 25 FT of coaxial cable and they wanted $29 for it. I left the store, drove five minutes to Micro Center and paid $12. Which leads me to another point…

    Stop selling Monster Cable! They would sell exponentially more cables if they didn’t want $103 for 6′ of HDMI cable. If I see a retailer selling Monster Cable, I will usually look for an excuse not to buy something from them.

    • airhed13 says:

      @CoAMarcus:
      Ha! How about updating the price tags when prices change? That 25′ of coax was probably only like $8 if you’d taken it to a register. I’ve picked up software at circuit city that was tagged at $25 and rung up at the register for only $1.50. No lie!

      Superb deals to clear inventory don’t count for anything if the customer can’t discover them.

  8. OlinHamjelly says:

    I just bought a 52″ 1080p LCD HDTV from Circuit City. It was a Saturday afternoon and there was very few people in the store, so I got in and got out quickly. It was quite nice. CC didn’t have the stand I wanted, so I went across the street to Best Buy to get the stand. They were so packed, it took 15 minutes before anyone would even help me. Even after asking a few “busy” reps. I would rather go to CC than BB since I am very knowledgeable in everything electronics, I don’t care if the store rep didn’t know how to plug in a toaster.

  9. Daveinva says:

    Nothing, really. And I hate to say that, but it’s true.

    What’s the difference between Best Buy and Circuit City? You can find more Best Buys.

    If everything is equal, then the only thing that matters is location. And if Best Buy has more stores in better locations, they’ll get more service.

    I can’t really slam Circuit City’s customer service– they suck, but Best Buy is just as bad. The only *good* thing about Circuit City customer service is that it’s SO bad, they usually just ignore you. And ironically, I count that as a plus, as there’s no faster way to turning me off in a store than to be pestered by incompetent customer service. At least when I walk into a Circuit City, I know that the reps are all going to be huddled together in the part of the store farthest away from me, so I’ll be left alone to browse at my leisure.

    Anyway, here are a few constructive thoughts:

    – Partner with Amazon as an official seller, then place internet kiosks throughout the store. This way, customers can easily comparison shop, read reviews, check out technical specs, etc. Set it up so customers can buy from Circuit City right there, or if they buy a competitor’s product on Amazon, they can have it delivered faster to that Circuit City than they can have it delivered to home (i.e., free overnight shipping or some such).

    This will improve traffic into the store, gets customers to visit the store twice, *and* keeps customers from looking at Circuit City, not finding what they want at the price they want, then immediately heading across the parking lot to Best Buy.

    And it establishes price integrity as a marketing tool, a lot like Progressive Auto Insurance– Circuit City will market itself as always providing you with the best deals, even if they aren’t the ones to give it to you.

    • CountryJustice says:

      @Daveinva: Someone needs to put Dave on the payroll, stat. That is, of course, assuming they can afford to.

    • GMFish says:

      @Daveinva: “Partner with Amazon as an official seller, then place internet kiosks throughout the store.

      The Amazon idea sounds like a great idea, but it would give Amazon a physical presence in nearly every state in the union, which means it would have to collect sales tax in nearly ever state in the union. That’s something Amazon is fighting against tooth and nail. It recently dumped of a bunch of New York affiliates just to avoid collecting NY taxes.

  10. HPCommando says:

    Make the executives work for a month at random Circuit City stores, with no power or authority to make changes.

    Spend one week at each in the “Customer Service Booth”, and require them to provide responses to each and every inquiry.

    Go to seminar for one week after this experience, and figure out why they are losing money.

    If they can, they win. If they can’t, they continue to hemorrhage money and fold.

    • orielbean says:

      @HPCommando: And you can’t tell the employees or managers that you are a big executive; have to do it ninja style to show actual performance of employees.

    • quail says:

      @HPCommando: One Texas restaurant chain in the 80′s did that. All employees hired at corporate level, including accountants and graphic artists and the like, had to start off by working in one of the restaurants. They’d train as a busboy, then as a host, and finally as a waiter and assistant manager. They’d spend 4 to 6 weeks on this.

      It was a good idea, but sadly it didn’t create forward thinking leaders for the company. It retracted in size during the 90′s.

  11. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    What do I find wrong with Circuit City?
    They have higher prices than their competitors, and most of the time they don’t have what I want.

    How do you fix that?
    Cheaper prices. Better selection. Aggressively letting people know that they have both.

    As far as electronics places go, I have no real loyalty. Whomever can get me the best deal on what I want, I’ll go there. If it’s Best Buy, it’ll be Best Buy. If it’s Newegg, it’ll be Newegg. If it’s Circuit City, it’ll be Circuit City.

    /Granted, I’m the typical “bad” tech customer (from a corporate perspective). I go into the store looking for X, find it, buy it and leave (so I guess I buy, I don’t shop).

    • Canino says:

      @dry-roasted-peanuts: +1 on the prices. Anything CC has in the store I can get cheaper elsewhere online, most of the time much cheaper.

      Last time I was in a CC I needed a memory card and had checked prices at buy.com and newegg.com so I knew what they were going for. buy.com was cheapest because no tax and free shipping, but newegg.com was pretty close. The CC price was 250% of that + tax.

      Some guy came over to ask if I needed help and I asked if those were all the cards they had. He said they were, and I told him I could get the same thing online for less than half the price. He just said, “Oh.” and walked away.

      Later that week I happened to be at *EVIL* Wal-mart and found the same capacity cards for less than CC there as well.

      • Of course you can get it cheaper online. I don’t think anyone expects to be able to get something at a B&M store at the same price as they can get it online. That just doesn’t make sense. Online stores don’t face the challenges that B&M stores, they don’t have to pay property taxes on thousands of stores, and more. They can afford to sell the item cheaper and still make a profit.

        Circuit City, Best Buy and the like, they can’t do that. They won’t be able to match an online price and still make enough profit to justify selling the item. Their ship would sink even faster if they tried such a thing. The amount of volume they would have to sell in order to make up for the lower prices would be staggering, something that most B&M stores just could not handle doing.

        You shop at a B&M store for convenience, not the price. You need that part or item today, can’t wait for 3 day shipping? That’s when you go the C&C or BB or even the dreaded Wal-mart.

        Speaking of witches, the reason you found the item at Wal-mart for even less is because their buying capacity far outstrips CC, Best Buy, Office Max, Office Depot, Staples and Frys combined.

        • dry-roasted-peanuts says:

          @obamaramallama: Clearly comparing online prices to B&M prices is apples and oranges. I referenced Newegg only in terms of the generalization of “wherever is cheapeset, I go”.

          CC, however, is still usually more expensive than their B&M competitors. And they are usually on the highest end of the B&M spectrum as well. Not always (point of fact, I got a very good Sony AV receiver from CC because they had the cheapest price), but most of the time you can find what you are looking for at any number of stores (not counting Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart) for less.

          • @dry-roasted-peanuts:

            I’m sorry, I wasn’t really referencing you dry nuts.. love the name btw :p

            I was referring to Canino who seems to go to B&M stores just to tell them their prices are not as cheap as they are at online stores like buy.com

            I do agree that CC’s prices do seem to be above that of the competition, which is something that has hurt them in the consumer’s eyes. I mean, they have horrible customer service *and* higher prices? What benefits do I have from going to CC over say Best Buy (which I won’t go to, but that’s another story best saved for another day). Sometimes CC has great deals, but mainly they are below the competition. Couple that with their craptacular customer service with their inability to answer novice questions.. I just don’t see them lasting much longer.

            I have a few thousand CC shares as well. I just can’t sit there and lie and say “oh they will turn around!!” – they have burnt too many people and have done so little to regain their respective market share. They will be going the way of the Compusa soon enough.

      • temporaryerror says:

        @Canino: To be fair, when I worked in retail it always irked me when a customer would come in and tell me that the product in question was cheaper somewhere else. What else could I do other than say “Oh” or “the buy it there”? From the employee point of view, I think that they would rather you keep that to yourself. Unless you have a printed ad with the cheaper price on an identical card and the store has a price matching policy.

  12. jamar0303 says:

    Screw it all, just please get bough out by a bigger chain- preferably from somewhere that actually understands electronics and customer service, like say… Japan.

  13. Zanorfes says:

    Circuit City:

    Focus on the customer instead of your text messages, personal calls, football game on TV etc.
    Know what you’re selling.
    Know your own policies.
    Honor your guarantees.(See previous item.)
    Admit that you mess up and stop blaming the customer.
    Stop ripping people off with your FireDog services.
    Stop selling gimmicks for which you charge hundreds of dollars that can be done by the customer. People will realize you’ve ripped them off –AND they will never go back.
    Don’t fail the customer as badly as you are doing it now.

  14. Skybolt says:

    Best Buy seems to have mastered the “giant store with disinterested employees selling the most popular things to the middle of the bell curve” approach, so don’t try to compete in that niche anymore. Reduce the size of the stores and aim for the higher end customers. Make sure everyone selling an item is an expert on that item, or at least on that category. Spend money on wages, benefits and training to attract and retain those people.

    In other words, become the opposite of what Circuit City is now, because you’re not the best at that and you probably never will be. A national chain of small, high-end electronics stores catering to people with excess cash could be successful. Be both the anti-Best Buy and the anti-Radio Shack.

    And yeah, have customer service policies aimed at your best customers, not your worst.

    • BoomerFive says:

      @Skybolt: Awesome Idea. Smaller stores with more specialized products, fewer, yet better paid employees (ie; the cream from BB) and cater to a niche market better than anyone else. Look at the Apple model, they knew they couldn’t compete with pc’s, so they cater to audio and video pros, as well as the college crowd.

    • Keen314 says:

      @Skybolt: You pretty much just described Ultimate Electronics. I <3 them after buying my HDTV from them. Fantastic stores, great customer service, and it’s oriented towards the higher end home theater customer.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @Skybolt:
      Yes, I agree. Although I (so far) have gotten the best from our CC here, I would hate to see them go under. And I would love it if I could feel like when I go in and need to ask a question, it’s not being answered by someone who just picks up the box and reads what I just read.

    • KStrike155 says:

      @Skybolt: Yeah, Tweeter tried this approach, and look what happened to them.

      Brian

      • Skybolt says:

        @KStrike155: Ok, what did happen to them? I’ve never seen or heard of Tweeter until this thread — there are none in New York State. I can see that they’re still in business.

        • KStrike155 says:

          @Skybolt: Tweeter only had about 150 stores. Saying that:
          “The company’s biggest blow came in March 2007 when they announced the closing of 49 stores and the layoffs of 650 employees [3].” – Wikipedia

          In addition to that, in June 2007 Tweeter filed for Chapter 11 and were around $190million in the hole.

          And in addition to THAT, they used to have their name on a few concert venues. Yeah, those are gone, too.

          Oh and I used to work for them and damn it was slow.

    • B says:

      @Skybolt: So what, they’re going to turn into Radio Shack? Or Tweeter?

      • Skybolt says:

        @B: In my comment, I say that they should not be Radio Shack. I can’t help you with Tweeter, I’ve never seen one. The point is that they can’t be what they are now, because there is at least one other player in their space that is better at it. So, they have to do something else. I think they’re more likely to succeed at going higher end than going lower end.

    • narf says:

      @Skybolt: With today’s economy, a higher end store will fail – period.

      In the past, I bought most of my stuff at the Good Guys. They were middle market and up, with hardly any of the off-brand shit. Most folks (commissioned) knew their stuff, and the extended warranty policy wasn’t BS. The mainstream stuff ( Sony/Panasonic/etc.) was the same price as the other places, but without the low priced stuff to get folks into the door in the first place, the just didn’t have the business as CC or BB.

      For CC nowadays, I’m leaning towards “too late to fix”. They’ve been copying Best Buy’s every move (media sales, non-commissioned staff, branded tech service), yet manage to do a worse job at every one. What’s the poit? Not much of one, really.

    • ezmobee says:

      @Skybolt: Didn’t work for Tweeter….

  15. WaldenDauber says:

    Integrate the CircuitCity stores with the CircuitCity website, with the goal of making shopping easier and less stressful. This would involve:

    1) Just have display models out on the floor, not stock. This will free up some extra room for more display models.

    2) Let customers choose whether or not to buy in-store (for immediate gratification), or through the website (for a lower price).

    3) Let customers look at competing online websites, right there in the store. Don’t let them purchase from competitors in-store, perhaps.

    4) Offer customers 2% off of the purchase price if they buy the product from circuitcity.com, before they have left the store.

    5) Eliminate the use of coupons

    So if a customer comes in and chooses a product, he/she won’t feel compelled to go back home and research the pricing. That’s what I always end up doing, because by the time I’ve picked a product in-store, I want to retreat and shop for the best online deals, see what coupons are available, and what shipping costs.

    Offering a small discount for in-store purchase, along with free in-store pickup, will encourage customers to make up their mind and just buy the product right then and there.

  16. madanthony says:

    I’m really not sure there is an answer.

    On the high-end side, customers who want hand-holding are going to go to Best Buy, or high-end stores like Tweeter or local boutiques, or buy online from Crutchfield or OneCall.

    On the low end, shoppers who care about nothing but price are going to go whereever is cheapest – BB, Staples, WalMart, Costco, whatever. These days, you can buy stuff like computers and flat-panel TV’s pretty much anywhere. Even if you lure them in with super-low pricing, they are smart enough not to buy the high-profit stuff like cables and service plans.

    Best Buy has been successful by focusing on high-profit customers instead of “devil customers” who price-shop, but I’m not sure there is room for another BB.

  17. Yankees368 says:

    Does anyone get that good feeling that they get in BB when they walk into Circuit City? No

    The stores look ancient, the cust. service is just piss poor, there are never any cash registers open at any store.

    BUT, I find that prices are constantly cheaper at CC than at BB, maybe thats why they are losing money. Just my 2 cents.

    • BytheSea says:

      @Yankees368: Yeah, you’re right. I have never seen a real register open at CC, it’s always the customer service desk, with a huge line b/c the one person with a complicated problem is holding things up. And of course they are — customer service is for problems that cashiers can’t handle.

      I always feel like there’s nothing there in CC – a lot of shelves but not much on them.

  18. Rhayader says:

    To me, they have to position themselves as a viable alternative to Best Buy. And when I think of Best Buy’s weakest point of attack, it’s electronics accessories. It’s great to buy a TV at BB, but getting the HDMI cable to go along with it is going to kill you.

    CC should position themselves as THE place to get electronics accessories. Best Buy prices them too high, and Radio Shack has no selection to speak of. I think associating themselves with TigerDirect was a good start, and they should continue along those lines.

  19. Thoria says:

    Three things:

    1. Customer service.
    2. Customer service.
    3. Customer service.

  20. ThinkerTDM says:

    1. Dump your CEO making millions, that should save a ton of cash.

    2. Don’t dabble in computers- actually work it. Most of these kinds of stores put a bunch of cheap ass computers on display, then hire a moron to help customers. Real computer experts only go to CC or Best Buy because they are in a pinch- not because they want to. I could go to Target and get the same stuff they sell at CC, but it is cheaper.

    So, to sum it up, actually sell shit your customer wants to buy. And identify your customer- you can’t want regular people to come in, and then shock them with technical gobbley gook- and you can’t get technical people with lame salespeople and shitty stock.

    • MustyBuckets says:

      @ThinkerTDM: They already did number one, did you read the post? “Their new CEO, James A. Marcum, who has only been on the job a week…”

      As for number 2, I’d love a store that was hard core into computers, that had options, and crap. Sort of what Dell keeps advertising, flexibility – have your personal computer made just for you, and to not have any problems, it comes with a driver disk for windows, and the store keeps the information on file so they know what you’ll need if you lose the disk. Simple.

  21. moore850 says:

    Stop selling the same thing as Best Buy. Switch to high-end computer parts and systems only. At least then you’d have something different… as it is, there is nothing different between Circuit City and Best Buy.

    • Rhayader says:

      @moore850: Agreed; this is the mind-set they need to take. Why can computer geeks find so many cool things online but never in a bricks-and-mortar? Every store that claims to specialize in electronics (Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc etc) has ended up pandering to the lowest common denominator: the clueless grandma.

      At this point, the tech geek population has reached a critical mass. Retailers can focus on that group without having to hold the hands of the digital immigrants.

  22. Gopher bond says:

    I go to Circuit City for one thing, to get a good look at the items I’ll buy online and have delivered right to my door step for a cheaper price. Maybe they should charge admission?

    • quail says:

      @testsicles: I do the same thing with BB. The sad thing is that they don’t carry some of the high end business class merchandise.

      BTW, that’s a business model carried out by thousands of porn shops throughout the country. $$ entry fee that gets deducted from whatever you purchase later.

  23. schiff says:

    OK, Circuit City lost my business this week because of Firedog’s insistance that I pay for osme extra service when buying a laptop. I had to fight with the pitches from the sales man, and then with a manager, who was required to waive the additional service. Then they “couldnt verify my credit card” and forced me to speak with the card company for “authorization”. Funny, it worked before and after CC without a problem. Total purchase time was 45 minutes. If consumerist is interested in the story you can email me – chris (at) schiffner [dOt] c o m

    • FLConsumer says:

      @schiff: Why did you still give them your business? At that point I would have requested the manager, told him why he just lost a sale and promptly walked out.

  24. dgsaunders says:

    240 mil? That’s chump change. Try 700 bil.

  25. m1ek says:

    Go upmarket from Target and Best Buy in electronics – Best Buy suffers from a lack of focus (appliances) and lose the commodity stuff (CDs, DVDs). Also ditto on the auto stuff. Even if there’s still people upgrading stereos today, that’s likely on the way out – those people are largely upgrading stereos in 5 year old cars; new cars come with good enough for 99.99% of people – making the aftermarket way too small.

  26. ironchef says:

    BB has a better rewards program;
    Home theater offerings seem better displayed than CC. The CC layout harkens to Sears or Kohls.

    What CC can do…
    build more in Digital photography offerings. BB has emphasized more digital photo and hands on tryout stations.
    More crossover of gaming and home theater demos. XBox360 games look amazing on the giant flat screen.
    The layout of the store should encourage more hands on tryouts.
    Clear up Firedog’s messaging. It doesn’t communicate benefits as clearly as Geek Squad.
    More promotional endcap offers at the end of aisles.

  27. proskills says:

    I think, more than anything, their stores are not in locations conducive to high sales (at least in my area). The three stores in my area are all within a couple miles of a Best Buy, a Fry’s, or a Costco. Considering that CC has a terrible consumer image from years of understaffed stores and overselling employees, people are going to the other store right around the corner. They need to get out of the locations that are bleeding tons of money to other stores.

  28. chrisjames says:

    Duh.

    Cut spending:
    - Customer service for a retail chain? Why? Customers can just go back to the store where the manager will handle returns and exchanges.
    - Knowledgeable employees are hard to find and demand higher pay. Teens, “self-employed” internet junkies, and tech school students are a dime a dozen and probably know stuff about electronics.
    - Returns and exchanges cost money in hand. Labyrinthine policies and hand-tied managers operating between the double threats of profit-maxing corporate policy and responsibility under full discretion will keep such issues in an endless, buck-passing loop.

    Increase Revenue:
    - Manufacturers and service companies will pay for exclusive shelf space. Since all electronics are made in the same place (probably China, or somewhere else in Asia) customers won’t care which product they get.
    - Our predecessors generated plenty of store loyalty. That badge of value never dies, so we can feel free to raise prices so long as we remind them that Circuit City is still better than our yellow and blue competitor.
    - Market research is expensive and inaccurate. Capitalize on all markets by opening a ridiculous, offensively redundant number of stores by population density. Eventually, all customers will have to drive through a Circuit City parking lot just to get home each day.
    - Parroting the successes of other businesses saves the time and money it takes to employ our own ideamen. All products and services are invariably of the same quality if copied from the outside-in, so long as they are opaque to the customer in every manner. However, ours will, of course, be superior because it has our name on it.

    Or, you know, the opposite.

  29. Nik in Denver, formerly in NOLA says:

    They need to completely overhaul the story layout in every single store because CC often has no order whatsoever.

    First, ALL MOVIES IN ONE SECTION AND PUT THE MOVIES IN CATEGORIES, ALPHABETIZE THEM AND KEEP THEM ORGANIZED. I hate going into a store and having six movie racks tossed around the store randomly with an assortment of stuff, four boxes with more movies, and then a shelf with other movies. Spreading them all over actually decreases the chance of me finding what I want, and it makes it far more likely that I won’t impulse buy a movie (since I didn’t see it) or I’ll go to the BB down the road to their organized shelves. Same goes for games and CDs, though those sections aren’t nearly as bad.

    Force every store to create checkout lines. I live by an old store (about 1996) and a new store (2007). The new store rarely has any employees that help and their stock isn’t good, but they have four checkout lines (2 of which are always open), so I shop here if I shop at CC at all. I hate standing in line at customer service (like I have to do at every other CC I’ve been to) because it mixes simple checkouts with online pickups with returns. Totally inefficient, and I have no qualms with putting down my 9.99 sale DVD and going to pick up the 9.99 sale DVD at BB.

    Introduce a frequent shopper program like Best Buy has and offer coupons and point accumulation. Sounds stupid, but if the price is the same, its just another reason (along with better organization and faster checkout time) for me to head to BB.

    Get better employees for high end electronics that (1) work on commission and (2) know what they’re talking about. As a customer and potential mark, I should not know more than your salesperson by googleing HDTV for 5 minutes. I’ve had two experiences buying high end things at CC. I bought a TV from a guy on commission a few years back and I was with a friend buying a computer 10 months back from a minimum wage high school kid. First, appearance: commission guy was in a dress shirt and tie. Looked me in the eye, shook my hand, direct answers, knew the products, knew how to show them off, etc. He even had a passing knowledge with ratings from Consumer Reports. Good sale, didn’t mind spending a little more than I could have paid on Amazon because I wasn’t treated like an idiot by an idiot (and instant gratification). Compare to high school computer kid. Basic polo, untucked, unwashed. No eye contact. Mumbling. Making up shit with technical terms. Confused RAM with HDD with CPU with GPU. Stated an integrated Intel GPU could run high end games. We wound up walking out from this type of bullshit. I’ve heard CC employees around the holidays tell parents that ___ game system plays everything. Including old Nintendo and Playstation games.

    On employees, make sure they’re at least personable. I’m not expecting disgustingly chipper, but I would like them to speak clearly, wear clean and presentable clothes, not hide when customers come around, and not constantly doing nothing while a 10 person line forms at the one person working the customer service/online order/checkout line. Also, I’d like knowledgeable employees for high end departments AND highly skilled, higher paid auto techs. Last time I put something in my car, it wasn’t done at CC because they had 17 year olds installing and had some numbnuts who didn’t know the products trying to sell it to me (or if they had the kit needed to fit it in the vehicle). I went down the street to a local shop, paid more, but had the job done by pro installers who knew what they were doing

    Keep the online prices the same as in store. If I see something for $50 online, it better not be $75 when I go in store. Put in several online kiosks in store so I can check prices, check stock, and order things.

    Double Best Buy’s return policy. If they say 15 day, you give 30. If they say 45 day, you give 90. And make it less of a bullshit hassle if I want to return things.

    Stop gouging on accessories or at least offer discounts if I buy the base product. Why are you charging 2x (minimum) for, say, a camera case than online outlets? If I’m actually stupid enough to shell out 900 bucks for a camera I can buy for 300 less on Amazon, at least give me a deal on the case or extra lenses or something. Do things like that to make it worth paying slightly more than online outlets.

  30. kaosfive2005 says:

    i know…price match :)

  31. tedyc03 says:

    Find a way to be trendy, in demand, and unique.

    Populate your stores with young, smart, caring professionals who know what they’re talking about.

    And remember what small business always teaches big business: that a niche is always best.

  32. itmustbeken says:

    Smaller stores, ditch CDs/DVDs, and get secret shoppers into all of your stores.

    Find a stupid/rude/lazy employee…fire them right on the spot. Nothing scares the herd into action more than seeing one of their own taken down.

  33. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    Put a strip club in the middle of each store with free lap dances for every customer. You’ll offend a few female customers but you’ll attract all the gadget geeks.

    • PunditGuy says:

      @johnfrombrooklyn: That’s funny, I was thinking exactly the opposite.

      What could be a bigger point of differentiation than making a consumer electronic store that specifically caters to women? I’m not talking about pinking the place up; I’m talking about lifestyle and life stages solutions rather than simply product sales. Women tend to be the caregivers in their families, so cater to that. (E.g., that may just be a Web cam at Best Buy, but at Circuit City it’s a way for far-flung children of elderly parents to keep in touch with Mom & Pop and make sure they’re okay — and here are the accessories you’ll need. That may just be a digital camera at Amazon, but at Circuit City it’s a way to preserve childhood memories — and here are the accessories you’ll need.)

    • GreatWhiteNorth says:

      @johnfrombrooklyn: …but then I’d have no reason to ever leave…

  34. jpmoney says:

    I’d imagine they could save a lot of money (and trees) by using a normal sized receipt.

    Ok, ok, this is a partial troll but it does need to be said. Their POS systems give that 70s-era Radio Shack feel that, as another poster mentioned, just doesn’t give you a good welcoming feeling like Best Buy.

    Like Bud says in Wall Street, modernize and beat the majors with it.

  35. LoriLynn says:

    Stop trying to sell me your over-priced but essentially worthless “protection” plan if you see me even looking at a product.

    Have sales people in the department know the department. Oh and when I ask you the difference between two laptops with very different prices “uhhhh…they’re basically the same…uhhh” is NOT a good answer.

  36. AnonymousFinger says:

    I just bought a 52″ 1080p LCD HDTV from Circuit City. It was a Saturday afternoon and there was very few people in the store, so I got in and got out quickly. It was quite nice.

    CC didn’t have the stand I wanted, so I went across the street to Best Buy to get the stand. They were so packed, it took 15 minutes before anyone would even help me. Even after asking a few “busy” reps.

    I would rather go to CC than BB since I am very knowledgeable in everything electronics, I don’t care if the store rep didn’t know how to plug in a toaster.

  37. jenl1625 says:

    I wouldn’t claim to be typical, so maybe this is just me.

    But I saw a new store being built next to the gym and the sporting-goods store on the already-overused service road in a grocery/restaurant/retail store strip. Wondered what it was – could mostly only make out that the logo was a circle. A few weeks later, was close enough to see that “The City” was written inside the circle.

    First reaction: “Is that what they’re calling Circuit City these days?”

    Second reaction: “I didn’t know they were still in business.”

    Moral of the story – I might have been tempted to wander in to a local Circuit City and comparison shop for some of the electronic goodies I’ve bought in the last few years, had I known they were still in business. . . . But I’ve pretty much gotten everything I plan to buy for a while, so they’ve lost the shot at getting my money.

  38. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Hookers and blow, but that’s my answer for ALL companies.

  39. trinidon2k says:

    They should stop forcing employees to push that firedog nonsense on to consumers. It’s one thing to offer it, it’s another to trick or coerce them into thinking they MUST have it.

    Also, they don’t let you use gift cards on video game preorders. Dumb.

    Also, you always have to fight with them to honor their pricematch policy.

    Also, you always have to fight with them to honor the gift card promise if your order for in-store pickup isn’t ready in a certain amount of time.

  40. waybaker says:

    This just screams CompUSA all over again.
    It seems to me that it is only a matter of time before the stores get liquidated.

    If I was the one calling the shots right now, my plan would include the following:

    HUGE amounts of training. Get the employees trained on the products they sell. Focus on their specific departments first, then get them cross trained in surrounding departments.

    Get adequate coverage. Make sure that your ratio of employees to customers is one that is serving business well. If you have 4 customers in a department and only 1 salesman to help them, 2 of them are typically going to walk because they cannot get help. The cross training will be beneficial here.

    Once we have these employees trained, lets give them an incentive to stay. Hell, even give them incentives to be trained in the first place. Maybe some stock options, benefits perhaps, recognition, community involvement. Make Circuit City a great place to work, and the employees will be excited about being there. That alone will translate into better productivity and overall should generate better customer service.

    Marketing. Once you make the changes, you need to go after the customers you’ve lost. Be honest with them. Tell them that you understand that they have a negative perception of your business. Invite them to come and check out the changes you have made and ask them to give you another chance. Offer them an incentive to come back, even if it means you take a small loss on their first sale back with you. Continued marketing and brand development will be key in retaining these customers and winning new ones. The negative perception needs to be replaced with a positive one and it will take time.

    Get the people who make the decisions into actual stores so that they can see whether or not a plan will work. Run trials before rolling out changes company wide. Allow Districts or Regions to pilot test some of their own ideas to see what may or may not work. Reward people who come up with and implement ideas that do work.

    Tout your successes. Stop focusing on the negative. Yes things suck. But if you continue to pound that into the heads of your employees and your customers, they will continue to believe it.

  41. xamarshahx says:

    stop hiring the leftover high school kids from other electronic stores and hire the bright ones. it seems like they have the dumbest of society working there.

  42. wellfleet says:

    - Control your SG&A. Dig deep into wages, staffing, rent, supplies, etc until you trim all the fat

    - Increase revenue by catering to CE customers who are typically ignored in larger chains: older customers, women, and Hispanics. Have your employees mirror the population the store serves. Hire older salespeople, Spanish-speaking associates, and women.

    - Compete on service, not price. If people want dirt cheap, they’ll purchase at Walmart or online. Realize that when times are tough, Walmart is the only retailer to post positive comps YoY in CE product. Be THE place to go to for service.

    - Develop a serious training program for your employees. Better training = better sales = fewer returns= more money without getting more customers

    - Get your stores involved in the community. The more you polish your brand image, the more likely people are to come to your store. Have an incentive program for employee volunteerism.

  43. bnelson333 says:

    Here’s how I see it:

    WalMart – Cheap products, low price.
    Circuit City – Better products, middle price.
    Best Buy – Best products, highest price.

    CC can’t compete with BB, they need to accept the pecking order and cater to their target audience: people who want something a little better than what WalMart has to offer, but are willing to drive a little further to get a good deal (as opposed to the Best Buy on every corner).

  44. SKURRY says:

    I’ve compared their prices to MicroCenter and Circuit City was double the price on a lot of the ansillary items like blank CDs and accessories.

  45. feeheelee says:

    Circuit City needs a massive overhaul. They keep trying to tweak things to make them better and all they are doing is pushing problems around rather than eradicating them. A term I love to use in these circumstances is “You can’t polish a turd”. Never rang so true than with Circuit City.

    They have become so obsessed with making money they have alienated the customer. Employees would flat out lie just to make a sale and essentially bully customers into purchasing protection plans. That has to stop.

    They need more full time employees, a better pay scale, stop firing good employees or letting them leave, more product/department specialists. The Video Game department has no specialist staff so it always looks like crap and customers can never get help or find anything. Same goes for DVD’s. Those two sections are multi-billion dollar industries yet are virtually ignored.

    Also they need to change their reward card scheme. You shouldn’t have to run a credit check to give someone a rewards card, it’s a new millennium people, wake up!!!!

  46. socialSTD says:

    They could teach there employees not to laugh at a customer when they ask if they have any cheaper component cables than the $50 monster cable ones.

    (It’s been 2 years and I’m still bitter.)

  47. darkstarX says:

    Sell Linux boxes, and certified linux compatible hardware. That will get geeks in the door, and we love gadgets and new stuff. For example, I had to buy a new Wifi adapter for my ubuntu machine at home, I needed something fast, and I work across the street from a CC. I hate waiting for mail order but I don’t trust CC to know whether their hardware has drivers for Linux. Almost no retail store cares about this, but a small and influential geek customer base would benefit them a lot because we spend a lot of our disposable income on technology.

  48. Swifty says:

    Merge with Radio Shack. Cross-promote. Feature a limited selection of electronics in all Radio Shack stores, and a full selection of components in Circuit City stores. That way, they’re positioning themselves as having more than Best Buy, and with the number of Radio Shack locations, they’d be much more accessible – especially in smaller markets.

    I mean – Radio Shack is like a cockroach. It can’t seem to die, and no one can figure out why. [www.theonion.com]

    • zibby says:

      @Swifty: All joking aside, I think it’s because a pretty decent Radio Shack can be jammed into a normal-sized (or even small), pre-existing storefront. The one in my area does very well because it’s one of only 2 places you can reliably get a cable or whatever without hopping in the car. Some people may even buy TV’s there, I don’t know – it’s pretty high population density.

  49. johnusaf says:

    I have a story about my last shopping experience at Circuit City during the summer of 2005, and since this experience I have vowed to never shop at Circuit City again and to-date have not stepped foot in any of their stores.

    In 2005 my hard drive was dying in my laptop (Dell 5150) and went to Circuit City (closest electronics store) to buy a new one. The computer guy there (forgot his exact name but his badge had the title “Computer Wizard”) informed me that Dell used proprietary drives and I could not buy one there. After I showed him the drive (had it with me) he claimed that the reason why the drive was proprietary was due to the chassis the unit rests in. I was able to remove the chassis with a screwdriver and this time around Mr. Computer Wizard claimed that he would not sell me a new hard drive unless I agreed to a professional install. I told him I didn’t need a professional install and he told me I could not buy a hard disk. I left the store, went to a local Best Buy and bought a hard drive with no hassle.

    Now, if this computer wizard guy (that title is a bit presumptuous) was honest with me from the onset and did not let his personal feelings about Dell cloud his retail sense maybe I would still be bringing my business to Circuit City. Since this was not the case personally I would rather see Circuit City go the way of the do-do. I have never had a good experience at any of their stores and think that Best Buy or Frys are better electronics stores.

  50. When it comes to shoes and clothes, I buy from Nordstrom. They’re not cheap, in fact, they’re more expensive or equal to a lot of other places. But, they have unremarkable customer service, an unbeatable return policy, and they always have the best selection and brands. Those three things make me a repeat customer.

    Electronics are a different sort, especially when you have local folks like NewEgg (I’m in the northeast) that can get you the same item in your hands the next day for a lot cheaper. But, if you kept your highly-knowledgable and super-friendly staff and a no-holds-barred return policy, I’d lose my bookmark to NewEgg in a heartbeat.

    I agree with the previous poster that stores look at you like a criminal if you try to return something, and that bothers me more than price and selection.

  51. justbychance says:

    Wellfleet, you hit the nail on the head.

    They are spread way to thin and it’s showing badly. Quality and revenue survey should be done at all of their stores and decisions should be made based on revenue, shrink, and quality of service.

    Once you shed the fat, the spending should be curtailed as well. They should find a way to motivate salespeople to perform better. They may even benefit from giving cash to the employees for meeting certain goals (a la Best Buy). Not asking them to force feed customers warranties but if employees don’t care good luck trying to make things better.

    Reevaluate Firedog and find out if it’s really making money or just wasting it. Make them regional to the stores where it makes money and close the rest down. Circuit City needs to think of each location as their own business and only grow the ones that can be grown. The rest need to disappear. That’s what Radioshack did and their turnaround story is widely known on the street.

    Next, product mix. Their private brands suck. You never hear anything about Nexxtech, but Insignia (Best Buy private label)is all over the place. They should look at their lowest margin categories and see how much they’re making/losing by supporting those categories. They did away with appliances a couple years back, maybe they shouldn’t kill themselves to sell GPS’s and kareoke machines. Maybe car steroes is a dead business along with the installation dept they keep to do that kind of work.

    Service. They don’t need to beat best buy, just stop sucking so bad. Circuit City appears on Consumerist so much, you’d think they paid extra for the bad press. They should reiterate that they are there for customers, are commited to quality then do things that show that.

  52. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    Merge with Blockbuster!!

  53. midwestkel says:

    This is what I would do:

    1) Rebrand the company
    2) Rearrange the entire store (new shelfs, better sorting etc)
    3) Get actual cash registers other than the customer service area
    4) Upgrade the POS system
    5) Create an actual not in the middle-backend of the store a spot for Firedog
    6) Drop Verizon and sell other carriers

    I have other ideas but don’t feel like spending to much time typing.

  54. MoCo says:

    Fire all employees with an IQ under 90. Oops, no one left. Scrubb that plan.

  55. mir777 says:

    Indifferent and/or clueless customer service and a startling lack of inventory are the hallmarks of the Union Square store. On my last visit, I was actually told to ‘try Staples.’ Maybe those could be fixed.

  56. BeeBoo says:

    It’s irrelevant. They’re going to go bankrupt within a year.

    If it turns out to be an operating bankruptcy and they pull out of it, it will still be irrelevant, because they will go bankrupt again.

    Yes, mark this post, you read it here first.

  57. Greenbird60 says:

    Not surprised at all to hear this. We used to have a circuit city by my house, but they moved it about 2 miles down the road next to the mall that has a huge best buy. Now, instead of having local traffic who didn’t want to drive all the way to the mall, they have to directly compete with best buy, except no one goes to the circuit city now because its not in the mall plaza, its across the street, and its not closer to our houses anymore. What were they thinking? Haven’t bought anything from them since the move, since the best buy is so much nicer (in relative terms, still hate best buy too).

  58. DaisyDawgy says:

    The last time I went to a Circuit City was when I received a 20% off coupon. I tried to use it in the store and they told me to read the fine print. The fine print pretty much made it a useless piece of paper. There were so many exemptions I don’t know if it actually covered anything. I ended up going across the street to the Best Buy.

  59. Lose all their current merchandise, (TV’s, Games, Computers, etc) and focus exclusively on Mobile Phones and Mobile Phone technology.

    Every phone, every phone plan, in one place.

    Cell Phone City.

  60. ludwigk says:

    one problem is that CC prints misleading Sunday adverts, then reinterprets them based on their imagination. When the game Crysis was released, the advert had a picture of the game with “$29.99″ next to it. Below the ad it said “Free $10 gift card with purchase”. What they meant by this was that the get would ring up as $39.99, then you got an instant savings of $10, bringing the price to $29.99. NO SANE person could interpret the ad this way.

    I argued and argued with the mgr over this, getting several bullshit answers, then he lied to me saying that I’d get a credit on it card for the amount in 48 hours. When that didn’t happen, I went back and argued some more.

    I had the original ad in hand, pointing out it’s verbiage. The mgr incredulously asked, “you want to get the game for $19.99?! That’s not what the ad says.” I pointed out that I paid the price listed, and that I wanted to get what was listed below the price, the game and the GC, as if it was job to explain how an advertisement is read. It was such a hassle, I have permanently written off any advert or deals from circuit city. I won’t shop there. You can’t tell when they will honor their ads or just give you a ridiculously hard time. It’s just not with my time and effort when there are honest competitors nearby and online.

  61. Alexei says:

    Go private.

    Short-sighted decisions like firing experienced people to save money on the quarterly balance sheet are the result of squeezing publicly traded companies to extract more money for fickle shareholders. If you can manage a private buyout, you can make decisions for the longer term. A private company only has to make a profit, not an ever-increasing profit.

  62. Ebonyknight says:

    What’s wrong with Circuit City???

    What’s wrong is that they are still in business.

  63. B says:

    Government bailout. They’re all the rage these days. And I do mean rage.

  64. rallyfanche says:

    When you are the big guy you are slower and less adaptable. Circuit city needs to STOP trying to compete with Best Buy. They lost that war, and they need to start playing guerrilla tactics. Everything that is a distraction has got to go. They need to find the products that sell the best, sell the most with the most profit, and specialize in just that. Be the best at just that. Lets assume that HD TV’s are just the thing. BE the BEST TV and TV accessories place. Be better than bestbuy but just as cheap as wallmart/amazon.

    But thats not all. Be friendlier. Have the best and easiest return service. Tried that TV and don’t like it? Return it anytime withing 90 days for a free complete refund. NO GIMICKS. You will win customers when they return a $1000 TV and get an instant no strings attached money back. Is it good economic sense? No. Will it hurt? You betcha. But the customer will LOVE it. And if it was that painless to make the mistake with the 1st TV, it will be easier to talk them into a $2k TV. Its about making the customer feel GOOD, and risk free. It will hurt, it will be crazy, you will lose more money…but you will gain more and more customers. Once you have customers you can return to being profitable.

    More people will leave BestBuy for circuit city if they perceive they are talking to actual professionals and not 17 year old punks. They will come when they feel that if they screw up, they can easily come back with their mistake and have the store make it all ok.

    Which means….no 18yr old high school seniors or drop outs selling 2500 TV’s. I know its age discrimination…but when im plunking down that much cash, I want to talk to someone who is at least 25 years old and CLEARLY knows what he/she is talking about. A fake 2 hour long “accreditation course” isnt gonna do it people. You are going to actually GASP invest in your employees. And SHOCK reward the GOOD employees. Not fire them to save a buck. Invest in your employees and they will invest in your company. If this is just a summer job…thats all it will be, just a job to fill the gap. Thats how you got into this mess.

    Last but not least get rid of all distractions. STOP selling CD’s and DVD’s. Yes, thats “crazy”, but does anyone actually buy them at stores anymore? Hasnt amazon killed that for everyone already? Then sell the CHEAPEST DVD’s and CD’s. Deals people. Sell the deals. Be different. I would go to Circuit City the same way I hawk over the the wallmart, blockbuster and Hollywood video 5$ bin, or 3 for 20$ bin. Be the place where you get amazing deals…not where you compete with BestBuy. You have and will lose.

    The same goes for the rest of the store. Get rid of stuff you are going to lose at. You dont have to have a presence for everything. Does anyone care about the thousands of mice, peripherals and every brand of blank DVD’S? Get rid of the clutter and crap. Get rid of washing machines. Who goes to CIRCUIT city for a fridge? Sears cant sell a fridge, do you think you can? Now is the time to simplify, and focus. That focus will save the company money, and saving the company money will drive down the cost of each unit, which you DUH pass on to the ungrateful consumer who will leave you for the cheapest guy.

    Lastly, do something nobody does. It hurts, but you want people to flock to you, and you insist on selling laptops? Sell just laptops. JUST laptops. Forget screens, forget desktops. Heck, forget huge professional grade canon/xerox printers. Be the laptop place. Heres one that will sell even more laptops: FREE firedog. Its lousy, expensive, and crap anyway. You clearly havent invested much into it, so you might as well brag that its free. Call it great PR. If circuit city gave people a 4 year service guarantee for your computer (you know, like a car). Its not that bad, all you really need to do is diagnose the computer for free. If its not a hardware issue, re-install the OS and thats it people will be happy just to have a working computer back. Just that alone will get people to FLOCK to you. Everyone with a laptop with spyware and virus’s will come to you for your free service. And hey…while they are there…maybe they will upgrade or you know SPEND MORE MONEY. If you iritate people with with catch 22′s, boiler plante and lousy service, they arent gonna be in the mood to spend more moeny at your store. Charge for hardware, charge for extras, but bring them in with SERVICE. Service service service. Ill say that again. Service.

    Lastly, for the love of everything wholey….SERVICE means just that. Service. If it comes with a long boiler plate, or bait and switch schemes, catch 22′s and every other dirty trick in the book…all of it will HURT a LOT because it will backfire. It has to be honest, heartfelt, and painful. Painful for circuit city NOT your customers. And your customers will love you for it, and the pain will make the company humble and contrite over their previous jackassery. Which by the way, nobody has forgotten. Your previous mistakes, will NOT be forgiven without pain. So get used to the long haul. The good news is, people are READY to leave BestBuy. They are seeking it, they are wanting it, they are begging to leave BestBuy for a better company. The trick is, you have to actually BE a better company.

  65. BytheSea says:

    I like them fine and their Firedog has been a lifesaver in a town with only Geek Squad. They don’t have the widest selection of video games, though, especially computer games. That part of the store always looks emaciated.

  66. vastrightwing says:

    I wouldn’t change a thing! Let them go the way of the investment banks (under their own weight and stupidity). Let something else emerge that works. The retail model CC used won’t work anymore. Big retail stores are out. Small customer oriented boutiques are in. For cheap goods, go on-line.

  67. Youthier says:

    The CD/DVD selection is dismal at best in the Circuit City nearest me and they never have the sales that Best Buy, Amazon, and Target do. They need to either commit to it or dump it.

  68. sonneillon says:

    I wonder if not being douche bags is on the list for circuit city.

  69. lyim says:

    I simply must say, it is the customer service that is lacking when you walk into a Circuit City, and the lack of confidence in the representatives who are ‘helping’ you. My most recent trip resulted in an older, apparently more tenured representative attempting to help me, and appearing unknowledgable and awkward with human interaction and the product in question. Another rep slipped in to save the day, a young man who likely was still in high school, and helped me find the proper solution. He unfortunately also chose to impress on me his dislike for the other representative.

    This whole situation is a perfect example of why Circuit City doesn’t work well for me. It is unprofessional, excessively time consuming and either cumbersome and invasive or vacant and non-engaging. I suggest you go to each store, fire two of the worst representatives, and hire on a full time, 50k a year salaried position that is exclusively there to provide top tier customer service. Though the individual may not be able to help everyone, they will breed a store culture that revolves around high knowledge and great option service. I don’t feel this is practical at every store right out the gate, and it is not going to be something that you can hire anyone to do, but a knowledgeable top tier sales and service rep would help out a lot.

  70. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    Ask for a bailout, that seemed to work pretty well for the auto makers.

  71. Saboth says:

    I don’t see a way of doing this. You can buy the exact same items online, for about 10-25% cheaper, and get honest reviews about the item instead of having a pushy salesman driving you towards an inferior product that just happens to cost more. Then end of the brick and mortar is nigh.

    • krom says:

      @Saboth: I don’t agree about the end of the brick and mortar. Instant gratification is still a big pull. I’d much rather be able to examine the item firsthand, and get it NOW, without shipping cost; than trying to glean info from half-assed spec lists and poor photos, swimming through astroturf in the reviews (if there are any), and then throw shipping on top of price and wait 3-10 days to get my item, assuming someone is home when the idiot FedEx, DHL, or UPS guy rings-and-runs.

      And then there’s always the time when, say, your router blows up. Not only can you not really wait 2-3 days, but you can’t even go online to order one in the first place.

      When I bought my last desktop, I had the sales guy open up the case of the floor model. Can’t do that online.

      Something else is wrong with the big box stores. Maybe it’s endemic to the whole big box model. But B&M isn’t dead. Technology is supposed to make things faster, not slower, right? Yet the Internet can’t beat B&M’s give-money-get-item speed.

  72. krom says:

    There ain’t room for two Best Buys in this consumer electronics town.

    (Ironically, I don’t know of a CC near me that actually sells consumer electronics, outside of a really sparse “outlet store” that seems to only sell 42”+ TVs.)

  73. zibby says:

    CC’s problem – in my view – is that they consider themselves a Lowe’s to BB’s Home Depot, but they don’t really know what that means. If they did better at customer service, improved the layout of their stores, and had a better selection of items (not MORE items, just more items people actually want to buy), then the would be on their way to making the comparison more apt.

  74. AlexandraCurvus says:

    It’s ALL been said here. As usual, EVERYONE knows, other than the company morons themselves. Funny how the new CEO answers back to shareholders in the same manner as their e-mail CS zombies, with useless canned diatribe

  75. vdragonmpc says:

    Guys, Circuit City tried the small boutique store years ago and it failed horrifically. It was called ‘Impulse’ and sold higher end electronics and gifts.

    The best thing for ‘the city’ to do is to try to undo the damage from the CEO ‘money raiding’. They need to reward employees for performance and not show them that success = laid off. Who was the braniac that thought good employees were a detriment to the company?

    How about selling appliances again? I USED to buy them at Circuit City now its a game of Home Depot, Lowes or Sears. In that order! Best Buy is NOT the place to buy any appliances as delivery, install and the price suck there.

    For gods sake enough with the ‘modular stores’ the city hasnt changed a thing in years. Its still the same departments. Get things that people WANT To buy. Your Car Stereo department is a joke. So is computers… Lets try to buy good quality rated products and how about knowing what the freakin products ARE!! Companies do send reps to help.

  76. Rachacha says:

    How to save CC…board up the doors and cut your losses.
    Seriously though.
    ** Circuit city has terrible customer service, and the “sales people” know nothing about the products that they are selling.
    ** There is never any stock on the floor. You always have to go to the customer service desk and wait to have your product brought out to you. This takes time, and most consumers get upset when we have to wait the extra 2 minutes to receive the product that I purchased.
    ** Selection is terrible. When you have only 2 of any product on display, it is difficult to conduct comparison shopping among different brands or models.
    ** The stores that are near me are dated and old feeling. Walmart, BB, & Target have a large open feeling with high ceilings and bright lights. The low ceilings and dim lighting only work in the high end botique electronics stores…you know, the ones with knowlegable courteous sales people, and the comfortable chairs where you can “try out” the big screen TV, or play with the new computer, not the “stick it on a shelf and it’ll sell” retailer that CC is.
    ** More hands on demos. It is difficult to walk into a retailer and try out a product. There are certain products that I want to “play with” to see if it is logical to me, or feels comfortable in my hand. That is becoming increasingly difficult at most retail outlets, so by having demos set up and the ability for consumers to try the equipment, you will be offering a service that other retailers do not offer, and should help bring in consumers.

  77. akacrash says:

    - Ditch the music altogether. Are CD’s really big business anymore?

    - Turn the CD space into videogame space. That’s the big market at present.

    - Play up areas like Cameras, Camcorders, Digital Frames.

    - Agree w/ a previous post, Car Audio is dead unless you’re some punkass with more $$ than brains. And is that really the clientelle you want to attract?

    - tell Monster to go sit-n-spin, and sell reasonably priced cables and accesories.*

    *Whatever high profit margin comes out of selling a handful of $100 HDMI cables is lost on the # of people turned off to the store altogether by a $100 HDMI cable.

  78. lotusflwr says:

    Improve customer service, stock the items people want (instead of expensive knockoffs that will never sell, or random crappy games, DVDs, movies) replace hordes of employees out on the floor with a motivated and engaged crew. Then admit to the consumers out there that have been burned that the big shakeup sucked and you’re sorry and beg for another chance.

    If they can do that and promise not to pressure me to buy extended warranties, they’ll have my business again.

    I currently do not go there because 1) there truly is never anyone at the registers or customer service so you can’t even check out should you happen to buy something, 2) the help is incompetent at best, downright rude and uncooperative at worst, 3) they don’t have the quality hardware or gadgets that I want, or if they do they’re marked up more than other stores or online and 4) for the good items they have, I have no incentive to go there instead of another store because of 1-3!

  79. yukonrye says:

    Maybe if they become more like Radio Shack used to be and start selling a large selection of “circuits” and other electronic parts. I hate having to buy $2.99 couplers from Radio Shack online because there stores never have them.

  80. ZukeZuke says:

    1. Improve customer service & product knowledge. This does not mean having five 20-something yr old associates walk up to me within 20 mins, but that last one not knowing where to find stuff when I actually ask about something. Also, stop them from hanging out in circles, just yapping the time away; very unprofessional and it feels like you’re intruding when you need to ask a question.

    2. Better organization of the stores. Like others have said, the DVD/CD sections look completely random. If that’s a ploy to get people to look at every damn shelf to try to find what they’re looking for, it’s not working.

    3. Offer consistent low prices that are at least within 10-15% of Amazon. That way, I don’t keep checking online and doing the math to see if the shipping cost outweighs the cost differential of buying local.

    4. Offer a rewards program. I spend more at Costco than BestBuy, but it’s still nice getting those $5 BB rewards certs… getting me back into the store to buy something, not just browse.

  81. aceball says:

    REWARDS and COUPONS!! Thats the only reason I go to best buy over CC (I hate them both) However, I get monthly coupons for 10% off so and so by using my rewards card that I end up going to BB when I need a game, CD, or something small. Also, when they send me a $20 coupon for my rewards, I end up spending a little more.

  82. kathyl says:

    1) Having DVD and CD sections in CC stores seems goofy. CDs especially, as more people are buying their music online, and buying songs instead of albums. The CD section is then kind of a money-loss dinosaur, and the DVD section will probably migrate to that sooner rather than later. I wouldn’t go to Circuit City to buy a DVD anyway. I’d buy online, most probably. These items are a waste of time, money, and space.

    2) CC almost NEVER has what I need when I need something. Whenever I buy something there, it’s like I’m settling for what they have instead of getting what I wanted. I browsed there to upgrade my video card and ended up buying (from another company) online because the selection they have in-store, frankly, sucks. I might have gotten one as an impulse purchase, but I didn’t because there was nothing there that would do. Other parts for computers/video cameras/electronics are virtually non-existent. I should be able to get accessories there so I don’t have to wait to buy them from an online store, but nothing is ever in stock. (Items like charger cables, batteries, power cables, fans, that kind of thing.)

    Stores like CC are allergic to carrying large numbers of SKUs and that means fewer choices (or no choices, because they don’t have it) in stores. Take a chance and buy some more diverse inventory, and then maybe I’ll come in and see if you have what I need when I need it instead of ordering it online and waiting. The only advantage CC’s brick and mortars have over online retailers is *instant gratification*. If you don’t have it, you can’t gratify me. :)

    3) (I should have listed this first.) Firing your experienced employees and replacing them with minimum-wage retail employees with no experience or knowledge specific to your business area. This INCLUDES your Firedog staff, by the way. I would no more let one of your Firedog “techs” touch my computer than I would let a stranger babysit my kid. Your customers aren’t idiots. We know when someone is trying to sell us something they know nothing about, and I part with my money much more reluctantly these days (and not at all to people who don’t seem to be able to give me good or accurate advice.)

    4) Don’t put draconian policies in place that force your employees to push things your customers don’t need or want on them, namely extended warranties or other promotional things that don’t benefit the customer but are a cash cow to fill your coffers. There’s this thing called the internet where we can now read more stories from people far from where we live, and we know how companies like CC like to weasel out of holding up their warranties and how they’re usually a waste of money even if CC did intend to honor the terms that are explained to customers when your desperate employees are trying to sell them to us. No. Just…no.

    Make an honest markup on the products you sell instead of depending on the extras. The very idea of arm wrestling with your sales people and getting them to sell me something without an extended warranty often keeps me from stepping foot into your store. Offer useful and reasonably priced services that you actually have employees capable of providing, as well, and you will make an honest dollar that way. Good recommendations travel as far as warnings, and if you revamp your services and hire capable employees, people will recommend you to their friends, and those first honest dollars you made will multiply into more.

  83. ziz says:

    One thing would make me willing to shop at Circuit City when it was convenient, rather than going out of my way to shop /anywhere/ else: improve the checkout process.

    There are registers scattered throughout the Circuit City stores near me, none of which are ever manned. The returns and pickup counter always has someone, but they refuse to do anything but returns and pickup, and when I do find someone to check me out, they usually have to take me to three different registers – ironically, ending up at a register at the returns and pickup counter – to actually take my money. Then, anything that was on sale scans wrong, and it is incumbent on me to walk back to the section, look at the tag, and walk back to say “yes, it’s $19.99, not $29.99″…at which point they change the price without checking.

    At least they don’t then check my receipt on the way out the door.

  84. ghstomahawks says:

    I’ve got to say, when I walk into my local circuit city I’m not surprised by how much money it’s losing, I’m surprised that it’s still open.

    What’s with the layout of your stores? Every one I’ve been in has a ceiling at least 30ft high, and in the middle of the stores there is nothing taller than about 5’8″. When I walk into a store I’m there to get something, I don’t want to feel like I’m walking into some massive cavern where no man has set foot before and-I-probably-shouldn’t-either!!! Besides, the ability to see everyone in the store from most points in the store just makes it all that much more obvious that employees outnumber customers (which is impressive since my experiences tell me the stores are horribly understaffed if you ever need an employee’s help).

    Really, I don’t care what it takes, just get customers in the stores (what you’re trying to do anyway, I know). Walking into a 40,000 sq.ft. store and being able to count the 11 people in it (including employee’s) makes for an uncomfortable shopping experience. My experiences with the physical locations themselves as I’ve mentioned here have made me feel rather uncomfortable in various CC stores, and made me less likely to shop at CC for my next purchase when there always seems to be a Best Buy within a 5 minute drive of any given CC.

    As for the actual customer service, I’m not going to hold this against CC. It sucks, but with competition like best buy … well, suffice it to say that the bar is set pretty low. However, anyone interested in truly improving the CC customer experience should eliminate conversations like this one I had with an employee recently (mostly paraphrased).

    Me: Is this really the price? It was listed cheaper online.
    Employee: We match our online prices though, so you can get it for the price it’s listed at online.
    Me: Oh, great. Is it possible for you to check that then, or is there a computer around here somewhere?
    Employee: Sorry, nope.
    Me: So can I print out the webpage and bring it in?
    Employee: No, we’d have no way of knowing whether or not it was a current offer.
    Me: Wait, I just remembered I have my iPhone. Let me find the page, I’ll have it in just a moment.
    Employee: “Aww s**t.”

  85. donovanr says:

    Change the store name to Costco!

  86. dwasifar says:

    Two things that have not been mentioned yet:

    1) Get rid of the damned restocking fees. What a shortsighted policy. A customer who has just been dinged 20% for returning something will shop somewhere else next time.

    2) Quiet down the stores. It’s pointless to try to shop for anything audio-related in a Circuit City. There’s always a deafening cacophony of TVs and stereo equipment all over the store, all set to high volume, all playing different things. You can’t hear yourself think, let alone hear what the stereo you want to buy sounds like.

  87. britne says:

    How about… actually stocking some products? The stores I’ve been in seem so sparse. Last 2 times I went to a CC for an impulse buy – item wasn’t in stock, or kids on the floor were too dumb to find it if it *was* there. (uhh… it should be around here somewhere…)

    Those 2 trips turned into purchases at Radio Shack and Target. (Target?! Target had the video-game-that-everyone-plays-and-Britne-is-just-now-catching-on-to and the electronics store Circuit City did not?! WTF?!)

  88. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    You know, it’s funny, but I read an article 10 years ago talking about how Brick and Mortar stores would have to compete with online stores on the basis of customer service, as they’ll always lose on price (due to overhead). It’s funny how nobody listened, and now shops like CompUSA and Circuit City are dying because they look at price and cost, and nothing else.

    There’s what I would do. Refocus on customer service. Raise wages, hire helpful and friendly employees (instead of every mouthbreather off the street), give them extensive training, and make sure they have every tool they need to help the customer. Push service plans and things like Firedog, but make them worth the money — i.e. when a customer needs service under their plan, make sure they can get it quick and easy. It may not be enough to save them at this late date, but it’s what they should have been doing all along.

  89. BeeBoo says:

    “We match our online prices.”

    That’s a big problem right there. Nothing ticks me off more than checking for something online and then going to the store and finding out it costs more at the B&M.

  90. DH405 says:

    Steal Fry’s(‘s) identity. They have a great thing going, but they aren’t everywhere they should be. They don’t even have a location in this state (Oklahoma.) You have the infrastructure to do it.

    If CC started offering good computer parts at a competitive price, it would be great. Stock up on good stuff and hire competent employees. Pay them well.

    If you do this, I’d put good money on a turnaround in two-three quarters.

  91. Sollus says:

    Well if my Circuit Shitty is an example of every other one out there then I suggest this:

    1. Have some sales on Blu Ray movies
    2. Better selection of blu ray movies
    3. change the way CD/DVD/Games are sorted. The goddamn PS3 games are locked in a tiny closet where I can’t see if they have a game I want.
    4. Get games when they come out and not later in the week
    5. Get rid of the stupid standalone stereos. Why buys those over-priced Behemoths?
    6. Could you please have people working there? I can never find anyone to ring up my order.

  92. katbur2 says:

    We’ve had problems with Firedog as well. At the very least they all need training on customer service. Specifically, the boys at Firedog need to understand that just because I hire you to jump my records from my dead computer to my new one does not mean I am an idiot. I won’t assume it was sexism, I think this guy is just a jerk to everyone.
    The other problem we noted was a lack of stock but that may have just been my location.

  93. DaltonAchelous says:

    Circuit City sales associate (5 months) here:

    One thing to keep in mind is that every store will have different managers, different employees, and different problems. While customers here have horror stories to report about their own dealings with managers and associates, it is not store policy to treat you terribly.

    I can not speak for every associate or manager at Circuit City, In my store, we are reminded every day how important it is to greet the customer and ask if they need help. We get a stern talking to whenever a group of us gathers and customers have not been helped.

    One main concern I have been bugging my managers about is the problem with DVDs and CDs, it takes us forever to help customer find a movie or album. If Circuit City spent the money to add alphabetized cards, they would relieve a lot of frustration for us and our customers.

    Seeing the comments here remind me how important it is to help every customer because that is how they judge the company as a whole. Just keep in mind that we are not snot-nosed teenagers and some(not all) know a little about the products we sell.

  94. SteveZim1017 says:

    The CC by me is poorly lit and poorly organized, if I want a DVD or a game they are very unorganized, I got a CC gift card and was pained to spend it.

    1. as everyone has said, organize your crap so its easy and enjoyable to search/explore.

    2. both BB and CC’s computer sections kinda stink, dummy them down with huge BUDGET and LAPTOP banners over the appropriate sections and bring in a high end customized section for PC gamer stuff (we have almost no brick and mortar stores for us anymore) expand firedog to be the sellers and repairers, basically computers = firedog turf, and train the hell outta them.

    3. Give the CS reps a nice central area, like a kiosk in the center of the store. that way if I have a question I know where to go, if I just want to look on my own I wont be hasseled.

    4.) change your image, gotta look friendly and get people back in the stores, offer gift cards on new releases, start a club card like BB, but have the new members get $5 off a few seperate times fairly quickly in the beginning. You give people gift cards (even for 5 bucks) they will come in to spend it. you need to get them back into the habit of coming into the store.

  95. BrianDaBrain says:

    Circuit City needs to focus on customer service. The previous CEO decided it would be beneficial to lay off long time, knowledgeable employees in favor of hiring minimum wage folks who couldn’t answer even the most basic customer questions. That doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter how little you pay your employees when nobody shops at Circuit City because the customer service is regarded as being poor.

    I once read an article about Best Buy. They were very concerned about Wal-Mart infringing on their market and were trying to find a way to compete. They realized that they couldn’t compete with Wal-Mart on a price level, so they decided to compete on a customer service level with highly trained, very skilled employees who knew how to answer questions and treat customers with respect.

    Since they’ve become the big electronics retailer, it seems like that initiative has fallen by the wayside, but I think if Circuit City can implement and follow through on something like this, the customers will come back. It would have to be a long term initiative that refocused the company from how little they can pay their workforce to how they can use that workforce to start wowing their customer base. They need to find ways to retain employees that are knowledgeable about their product lines and create an environment where such knowledge is rewarded. The first step to happy customers, after all, is happy employees.

    • Imaginary says:

      @BrianDaBrain:
      I agree that BB has slackened in that CS department. I usually find that when I need someone there’s no one and when I just want to browse I’m virtually harassed. CC needs to get it’s customer service back if it wants to succeed. You can pay your people in peanuts but they don’t care about their jobs, or you can pay them well and they’ll care a little more. Weed out the jerks and bring in some knowledgeable eager people.

  96. hankrearden says:

    Oh, that’s easy. Ask for a bailout.

    Then resign, pop the golden parachute and enjoy a glass of champagne on the backs of the public.

  97. Imaginary says:

    I find it hard to even shop there. The store has a confused layout, all of the DVD’s are mixed on those terrible wire racks (making it nearly impossible to find anything unless I spend hours filtering through every genre ever released). I actually went in to buy a camera once and the salesman blatantly ignored me even after saying “excuse me sir” several times. I guess he was having a very important conversation with a coworker. So I left with him saying “can I help you” as I walked out. Didn’t buy anything that day. One employee simply pointed and said “over there” and walked away when I asked where the DVD burners were. I don’t think he realized there weren’t any signs on the angled isles. Didn’t buy anything that day either. If I’m ever looking for a simple mouse or keyboard I can rest assured that Circuit City is not the place to find it. Not everyone needs an ergonomic keyboard or an ultra sensitive laser mouse.
    Just name a few things.

  98. UniComp says:

    Just change their name to “Best Buy,” duh.

  99. myfigurefemale says:

    i agree with the comments above
    1) more selection
    2) better layout
    3) better customer service (think like zappos…easy return and knowledgeable/friendly employees)

    every time i go to circuit city i can’t find a thing and no employee knows where anything is either. the only time i shop there is when i can buy online and pick up in store because then i don’t have to wander around for hours looking for something. when i shop in a brick and mortar store, it’s because i want to look at the item before i buy it, and because i want it now. when you don’t have anything new and exciting in stock, nor can employees even help me with a simple request like finding something, i have no incentive to shop there. i’ve had several unpleasant experiences at circuit city such as them telling me i couldn’t use a check (to purchase a $1000 laptop) because the check number was too low..uh what?, to being guaranteed a rebate and then not getting it, causing my computer to cost me over $200 more than it was advertised for. somehow, i keep going back because i hate best buy, but more and more i end up walking out with nothing because you don’t have it or i can’t find it.

  100. Kevin says:

    Their problem is they are just like every other electronics retailer. There is no differentiation. CC will have to redefine it’s business model. To save CC I would ditch the mega store feel and downsize to a cozy mall location.

    CC would have some stock on hand – stuff to play with, break on location – but its differentiating point is that CC hand delivers the majority of the merchandise to the consumer’s house. Push the helpful, friendly service aspect.

    Market Circuit City as the world’s finest virtual retailer. You order online, and for orders over $500 the tech arrives the same/next day with your merchandise; orders under $500 can be picked up locally.

    Give consumers a personal shopper for orders over $1,000 and improve the back end care of customers with problematic merch.

  101. snoop-blog says:

    Fix it? Hell can’t they just get the government to bail them out?

  102. asten77 says:

    Minor nitpick, but it makes editors look… less intelligent than they probably are.

    $ means dollars. You don’t need to use both. :)

  103. TrentFrocket says:

    Here are three case examples of sales to me that circuit city lost in the last year or so:

    Big screen TV (August 2007) – Aparently the sales force had adjusted the brightness/contrast on the less expensive models (my price range) so they looked like **** compared to the
    expensive models. No remote controls were left near the TVs, so I could not see what they really could look like. The sales person was busy with another customer. Disgusted about
    this game, I left and purchased one a couple of weeks later at Office Depot.

    Large capacity USB drive (December 2007) – Looking for 500 MB+ external USB drive. Only internal models were in stock.

    Panasonic phone (December 2007) – Looked at phones and found a Panasonic model I wanted to purchase. I tried to find it on the shelf. The boxes were stacked neatly, but placement had no relationship to either shelf tags or to placement of the demo models. I also noticed that few
    model numbers on tags matched those on the boxes. After looking for approx five minutes and a couple of attempts to get sales help, I left. I purchased the phone of interest from Target the same day.

    Lessons: Don’t play self-defeating games to try to up-sell big screen TV models, keep things in stock, match shelf tags and demo unit placement with product locations.

  104. MarcoOrthrus says:

    I worked at CC this summer. Never lied about services, always said the pros and cons if them, but the credit card authorization thing has nothing to do with the people at the store. The computer will just randomly pop up saying it needs to call the bank.

  105. Blue says:

    CC losing money????

    CLOSE THE DOORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  106. TVarmy says:

    Sell more copies of Mad Magazine.

  107. Some really good thoughts here so far.

    I will start off by saying we just recently had “The City” open in Cleveland, TN (my home). And even though I have heard a lot of bad stories about CC staff, I have to commend the employees of our store. They were very helpful the last time I was there, helping pick out a HDTV for my dad. The mini-touch laptops/”info bags” they supply the employees with really seem to help, especially with product questions and stock numbers.

    That aside, I will say this is what they need:

    * WAY better DVD/CD selection – It really is a joke. While Best Buy has row after row of clearly marked DVD’s (by genre and alphabetical), The City barely has 5 rows of DVD’s (Only 4 of CD’s) and they are not as clearly marked.

    Also, their DVD prices when compared to Best Buy are usually not even close in value. The City is on average $5 or so more. Also, they sometimes don’t even have notable new releases in on their release date! I recently went looking for the highly promoted 10th Anniversary Big Lebowski DVD and they hadn’t gotten any copies, even after being released 4 days prior.

    * Firedog (Who picked that name??) needs to be more well-defined – Where as Geek Squad is almost self explanatory, they also do well in explaining their services through signage. I didn’t even know what Firedog was or what they did until I asked someone! And even then, the staff they had at our store were very vague on what their services were and what the prices would be. Needless to say, I installed our HDTV myself.

    * Exclusive deals shoot them in the foot – Here’s another example: I went looking for a case for my iPhone. Since I didn’t feel like driving to Best Buy (the nearest one is in Chattanooga, 18-20 minutes up the road), I decided to stop by The City. After looking around for a while, I approached one of the Cellular specialists and asked if they had any iPhone supplies.

    He informed me that due to their deal with Verizon, most AT&T and/or iPhone stuff wouldn’t be available in their store. So, I ended up giving my money to Best Buy after all. Best Buy and HH Gregg don’t really have any big “exclusive partners,” so they offer almost all companies’ products in their stores. I don’t see why The City can’t do this as well!

    Just my 2 cents…and they might echo a lot of the other great posts here. ;)

  108. rateoforange says:

    I used to have nothing against Circuit City, but slowly I came to realize that every time I went to the cash register it took upwards of 10 minutes to check out. There was never more than one person in front of me. After about 3-4 visits worth of this, I mentioned it to someone wandering around the floor with a black shirt in the most polite terms possible. He told me he ‘wasn’t a manager’ and stalked off before I could say word one. My cashier, overhearing this, managed to belt out “I’m sorry, we’re busy.” (They weren’t)

    Christ. Easily one of the worst experiences I’ve had retail shopping.

  109. billddrummer says:

    My ideas?

    1: Review lease commitments for all the stores that have been closed, and figure out how much it will cost to terminate them. Then, pay them off. That will save you about $45 million a year in lease costs.

    2: Pay CarMax a breakup fee to get out of the contingent liability remaining on the store leases. If the economy slows down further and some of the tenants bail, CC will have to service those, too.

    3. Review store performance on a unit-by-unit basis. If a store isn’t profitable, close it.

    4. Convert all the small footprint stores to ‘the city’ concept, and target products, presentation, and staffing to cater to affluent customers. If small stores are in bad locations, convert them to warehouses for online sales pickup.

    5. Hire staff who are knowledgeable about the products they’re supposed to sell.

  110. AlinaElipticate says:

    The price that each individual store pays for the console is the same as it’s price point; it is a break even.

    As for car audio, our roadshop services about three thousand vehicles a year; mostly for subs, and amps, in dash dvd/nav systems. And no, there is a huge margin in the units themselves, often as much as 30-40% depending on the brand/model.

  111. edrebber says:

    Many customers are shopping at circuit city for instant gratification. They can get the item cheaper on line, but they don’t want to wait.

    Since circuit city isn’t making any profit off of the electronics, they will try to sell extended warranties and over priced accessories. Now the customer is held hostage listening to the sales pitch.

    Since the stores are under staffed, the customer has to wait just to hear the sales pitch. It’s going to take at least 15 minutes to get out of the store with your item. More like a half hour.

    Then if you don’t buy the accessories or warranty, you’re stuck with knowing that the sales person may be fired for not meeting their quota.

  112. MitchV says:

    Cut your losses and start over.

    Circuit City used to be the only store of it’s kind where I lived. Best Buy moved in and ate their lunch.

    Circuit City doesn’t have the best prices. Best Buy sold cheaper warranties. Best Buy carries more inventory.

    Circuit City is the place I go when Best Buy is out of stock.

    Electronics have become such a commodity, people are unwilling to pay extra for service unless it is very specialized (and expensive). Circuit City cannot compete with Best Buy’s existing infrastructure – Best Buy’s stores are better/bigger and I suspect distribution is too.

    Everybody and their grandmother is selling electronics these days. Walmart is getting in on the action. Costco and Sams Club are doing their share. I actually saw an LCD television for sale at Kroger yesterday. The market is becoming overly saturated with competitors doing what Circuit City does.

    A different approach is needed. NewEgg found a way to provide excellent pricing, great selection, and exceptional customer service – it can be done!

  113. Demonbird says:

    Better customer service, media blitz, reinstate sales commissions, and for the love of god STOCK AND ORGANIZE YOUR DVD SECTION PROPERLY.

    I made a hefty purchase at CC last weekend. and you know what? None of the sales staff even looked at me. They had no motivation and I pretty much just nabbed what I wanted and brought it up front.

    Fix your crap CC.

    Also, no sales staff in your entire computer section?
    I noticed that too. No one, for an hour. WTF?

  114. madog says:

    Outsource it. If you want in-store help you’ll have to travel to Bangladesh.

  115. Outrun1986 says:

    Previous comments aside, I think they need to organize the store better. The layout is not customer friendly at all, and it just seems like merchandise is all over the place. The video game section that I frequently visit is just not linked together properly. I guess thats the best way to describe it. Its just not arranged in customer friendly aisles.

    Stop selling open box items that you know are broken, every time I go into a CC there is a huge table at the very front of the store with a ton of these items on them, this is very fishy and does not sit well with me. Placing these items next to similar items would be better instead of bombarding customers right away with these items as soon as the customer walks in the door.

    Maybe re-hiring some of those employees that actually had knowledge that you fired in order to hire more minimum wage worker drones would help too. Although I bet those employees have long moved on now, so good luck trying to recruit them again.

    Hire someone to get the weekly ads right. Most of the time there are huge signs stating the misprints, and this happens every week, its not just a once in a while thing. Soon customers learn not to trust your ads and then your business is lost.

    Get a proper inventory system, when I ask an employee to look an item up in the computer and it shows 6 in stock yet there are none on the shelf then there is something wrong. When employees cannot find the section that your product is supposed to be in there is also something wrong. The store locater on the website is also notoriously inacurrate. An online inventory system where you can look up if your local store has a product is something shoppers expect these days. Shelf tags don’t match up with what scans in the register, fix this or don’t put up any shelf tags and instead offer self scanners at every aisle.

  116. cbcowan says:

    Circuit has a couple of chances to succeed – but they have to give up a bit of control of their own destiny:

    1.) Look for people that would like to see 2 strong CE category killers – not just 1. I’m thinking about people that are going to be really hurt in a squeeze between Best Buy and Wal-Mart negotiating them to death on the high and low-end. (Looking at you Microsoft, HP / Dell, Wireless carriers, Intel,…)

    2.) Develop unique partnerships with these guys (all of whom have $$$) each owning a section of the store. Dell + Microsoft + Intel combo on the hook for bringing PC’s to life. Etc. Dell as the exclusive PC seller – create a PC version of Apple store in the middle of CC. Make CC THE place to go to for Dell. Ditto Sony or Samsung or LG in flatscreens. Dedicated showcase for them. Simplify choices by offering deep – integrated solutions.

    3.) Get partners to coinvest in refurbing the stores. They’ve been neglected.

    4.) Improve Firedog and making it viable alternative to Geek. Again – lots of players have vested interest in Geek Squad not being a monopoly – ally with them. Fixes: Simplify service offering menus. Clarify value prop in advertising.

    5.)Customer service is a red herring.

  117. Lin.karl says:

    there are many alternative places, such as WalMart, Costco…, where the consumers can purchase the products of the same category they can find in Circuit City. Therefore, in order to compete with those discount stores and survive the current economy, Circuit City needs to differentiate from its competitor how it deliveries the goods.
    first of all, they need to have trained salesmen on the floor. They need to know the products well and how to use them. not only that, they can give the customers hints how to optimize their experience using their products.
    Second, since the economy is bad and people watch what they are spending, Circuit City should have better finance plans for all goods in the store, like they pay 10% down payment first and than monthly payment which the customer is comfortable with.
    Third, after sales, they should call the customers 3 days after the sales to see if they have any problems with the products. If the customer purchases big and expensive products that requires calibration, they can send the technicians to the customer’s place to do installation and at the same time pay attention to the customer’s electronic items and maybe offer recommandation to optimize their product using experience. They should also keep in contact with the customers to make sure they have no problem with installation.
    Forth, Circuit City can also have Trade-In program where the customer can trade-in the old products for some discount for purchase. The company can turn around and sell refurbish products or donate to charities for taxes reduction purpose.

  118. failurate says:

    The government is just giving that money shit away. Ask Uncle Sam. Lately, he doesn’t even make you reach into his pocket to get it.

  119. Overheal says:

    By not giving employees commission they really boned themselves.

    I was in there a few weeks ago, they had 4 people on the floor just standing at the end of a row talking to eachother and here I am shopping. Not one of them will of course bother to even look at you. So as the customer you have to break in to this 4 man crowd of employees and pretty much ruin their fanciful little day because you need to get an mp3 player from behind the glass.

    For all the productivity they are getting out of their workers im afraid to say they could easily trade 4 of them in for 1 commission paid employee.

    And, it could certainly work. You dont have to mirror BB with little groomed concierges that follow you around the store and make you feel equally uncomfortable as the 4 guys in a group situation. Start treating Circuit City as the place where smart people shop: Let them learn at best buy, let them buy at circuit city. Fewer employees handling a better assortment of high tech parts and accessories: the walk-in newegg we’ve all been waiting for.

  120. jp7570 says:

    Why bother saving CC?

    Anyone that has read the Consumerist for any length of time can see the litany of horror stories that come out of this company. It was truly gratifying to see the CEO forced to resign because of this continued poor performance.

    When Blockbuster Video (themselves a company in peril, based on yesterday’s technology) looks at your books and says “no thanks” to an acquisition, you gotta ask yourself “Is CC worth saving?”

    To the CC Board of Directors – Please put CC out of its (and our) misery before the end of 2008.

  121. croeso says:

    Circuit City lost my respect and business for all time when they loaded my 96 year old mother in Florida on social security into a Polaroid television which died during their 30 day warranty period, but I wasn’t in town to be able to help out. I arrived on the 31st day after purchase and their attitude was “too bad, so sad”. They did show a bit more concern when I dropped it on the floor right in front of their display of these pieces of junk… but their concern was limited as to who was going to clean the mess up. I told those within earshot not to worry, nothing was lost… the sets don’t work anyway. Haven’t been back since…. and never will.

  122. Altdotweb says:

    Stock the stores they choose to keep open.

    It always looks like CC’s are low on inventory. Makes me think they are going out of business sometime soon.

  123. cecilsaxon says:

    They need to bring back sales folks paid on commission. Sad thing is they lost a cultivated sales staff and chances are they will never get it back fast enough to fix much of anything.

  124. DukeCabaje says:

    I worked for CC for almost 4 years and I can tell you that CC doesn’t know how to manager shit! I worked in PC/Digi Cam sales, then cell phones before Verizon took over, then Customer Service, so I’ve got a pretty wide view of things from an employee’s perspective and from a customer service perspective.

    First, advance employees from within more readily. I worked there for a long time and worked very very hard and gained recognition from my department manager but by the time I quit I was still PART TIME because they “didn’t have enough full time slots”.

    Second, DO NOT FIRE YOUR BEST (and thus highest paid) AND MOST EXPERIENCED EMPLOYEES! Yes, this is a sure fire way to save money in the short term, but the new employees they bring in are going to take so long to be on par with the previous experienced employees. They made a HUGE mistake laying these people off.

    Third, they need to listen to what employees tell them customers are saying and what customers want. Accept this feedback instead of ignorantly passing it off as crap. Why is CC second to BB? Ignorance and unwillingness to change!

    Fourth, get ride of shitty and always unreliable brand names like Belkin, CyberHome, and all those cheap as crap MP3 accessories! So much time was wasted by customer service having to continuously swap out these such items, not to mention shipping costs to and from each store!

    Fifth, this isn’t something that can be fixed anytime soon, if at all, but part of the reason why BB has such greater visibility to everyone is LOCATION! CC has historically displayed a tendancy to purchase cheap real estate. Perhaps that high priced lot RIGHT NEXT TO THE FREEWAY EXIT is a good idea after all!

    Sixth, DO NOT HIRE TEMP HELP TO LOAD YOUR SHIPMENT TRUCKS THAT ARE GOING TO YOUR STORES! There is so much product that arrives with each store delivery that has an incorrect shipping label on it! On top of that, Product A is quite often “electronically shipped” to Store A but ends up at Store B! I have to be the only employee that went through almost every piece on a truck to make sure that the shipping was processed correctly, and if it wasn’t, I made the necessary calls to fix it!

    Circuit City is a complete joke from a corporate perspective and I pity each and every one of it’s gullible stock holders!

  125. jjw3579 says:

    CC is literally next door to Best Buy in my town. I *always* check both to get the best price, and I haven’t bought an item from circuit city in two years. That’s their problem.

    Secondly, they did exactly what Radio Shack did – tried to become an “everything” store instead of a niche store. I’d probably shop at Circuit City more if they didn’t jump all over me to buy a cellphone and credit cards when I enter. The sales staff stand around then assault you like squirrels on the world’s last peanut. Four of them will rotate asking if I need help every thirty seconds. Shopping at Circuit City makes me feel like I’m buying a used car- get rid of those horrible commission based 17 year old sales people!

  126. InsertBullets says:

    How about actually having the Items you advertise on Sunday still in stock at the Store on Monday too? How many times have you gone into a Circuit City to buy a Game or even a spindel of DVDRs that they have on sale only to find they don’t have one in the store and won’t get anymore until after the Sale ends? And Oh yeah by the way no rainchecks.

  127. dusadust says:

    You guys are nuts. Retail customer service is totally overrated. They should do one of two things: either run MUCH leaner and reduce prices to the point where there’s a noticeable price difference between them and their competition, or go upscale and sell exclusive and expensive items. (I’d vote for the former.) Frankly the only thing that differentiates them and Best Buy is the color polo that the employees wear. They sell exactly the same stuff for essentially the same prices. And in cases where retailers are not noticeably different, the biggest fish wins.

  128. spankdidly says:

    They Pay kids minimum wage and then a .50$ incentive for each warranty they sell and you wonder why there’s lousy customer service? I used to work for CC a long time ago when they cut the top sales people. CC is a joke! It’s usually in a terrible location, and it’s more expensive than ordering it online at amazon and having it shipped. Even when I worked for CC I’d go to bestbuy to buy things because we couldn’t get stuff at “cost” anymore. When it was commission you had people working hard, maybe a bit shady, but they worked hard. Now they just stand around or hide from the customer. I go in CC when I’m feeling bad about life, and then walk out praising the Lord. Nothing has changed there.

    Let them burn.

  129. jwissick says:

    No kidding. They need to fix the DVD and CD sections. It’s like the employees have never heard of alphabetical order. There is no rhyme or reason to the order there. The service suck as well. The employees prefer to ignore customers. The stores are also real dark.

  130. eddytompkins says:

    Hire knowledgable salespeople and inspire them to care about what they are doing. Don’t automatically add the extra warranty charge without asking the customer. (This happened to me when I reluctantly held my nose and bought a car stereo there last week. I mentioned it to the manager, and her response was: a – there’s no charge for it on your receipt [that’s because i stopped him from adding it, but only because i was suspicious of everything about them and therefore watched everything he did, and b – “we put that on there for people to consider adding” or some BS like that – the correct answer is c – “We apologize for doing that, we will train our salespeople not to add extended warranties without asking customers if they want them.”

    The thing is, there was a decent chance I would have bought the extended warranty, because i think car stereos can be a bit flaky… but add it to my purchase without asking, and your company deserves to go away.

  131. PoliticalScapegoat says:

    It’s an easy fix for any CEO with a GED:

    1. Fire everyone except the top corporate salaries
    2. Close doors
    3. Take a huge golden parachute ride
    4. Wait for Best Buy to purchase the remaining assets.

    C’mon people, have we learned NOTHING on how to deal with these situations over the past few years?!?

  132. jimmydeweasel says:

    Tell the cashiers to get the bones out of their noses, and stay off their cell phones.

  133. axiomatic says:

    Fire middle and upper management. It’s their job to make the business successful.

  134. htrodblder says:

    Be the “Target” of electronics Nothing but simple clean displays, great advertizing and helpful staff.

  135. StephanieSays says:

    That’s funny! I thought I would share my most recent trip to circuit city:

    I saw a laptop I wanted in Sunday’s newspaper ad. This was Sunday afternoon, so I called the store to make sure it was still available. I called 3 times, and all 3 times an automated voice told me the store was closed, and could either tell me store hours and directions or get me to the 800 number. The flyer said they were open and clearly stated their hours.

    I finally got through on the fourth call I tried and Circuit City apologized and told me their phones were messed up…okay, fine. She put me on hold and said she would transfer me to the correct dept. to answer my question. It rang and rang… no one ever answered. Finally I was pushed back to the operator, and she transferred me again. After the second time no one answered and it pushed me back to the operator, I asked for a manager.

    Okay, fine. I’ll just have a manager look it up for me. I gave him the details on the computer I wanted…sku included…and he said they were out. I could call the 800 number and order it or possibly find out if another location has it.

    I called the 800 number. The CSR said that she could see the store I had just called had 8 of them! And she stated it was updated fairly quickly, so maybe the manager had made a mistake. At this point I just decided to go down to Circuit City myself.

    So I went down to the store, and sure enough…the laptop was in stock. I was looking around for someone to help me, and a male employee giving a PIGGYBACK RIDE to a female employee walked right by me. GREAT! Well, I finally just went up to someone in the TV department and told him I wanted a computer. He took care of me.

    So yes, I love my new laptop…but do you see why Circuit City is losing money?

  136. ObadiahGreel says:

    It’s easy:
    ~Create an appealing environment (well-located, clean, well-lighted, clearly signed, and attractively merchandised)
    ~Carry the goods your customers want. Cover your price points.
    ~Hire and retain friendly, knowledgeable staff who deliver extraordinary customer service.
    ~Merchandise so your customers can touch and hold everything.
    ~Fast cashiering and fair return policies.
    ~Execute all of the above and you might get away without competing on price. Too much, anyway.

    This is Retailing 101. Go to any Barnes & Noble and see how it’s done.